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Furiosa: First reviews praise George Miller’s sprawling action epic, but it’s no Fury Road

After its world premiere at Cannes, the first reviews for Furiosa have plenty of praise for the sprawling action epic, but it’s no Fury Road.

Last Updated on May 24, 2024

Furiosa: A Max Max Saga had its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival, nearly a decade after the debut of Mad Max: Fury Road at the same festival. The first reviews for Furiosa have begun pouring in, and while they’re just as full of praise as those first reactions, it doesn’t sound like it reaches the heights of Fury Road.

Variety‘s Owen Gleiberman said that while Furiosa contains “a handful of awesome action moments,” the action doesn’t take center stage in the same way it did in Fury Road. “The most important thing to say about ‘Furiosa,’ however, is that what it all adds up to is a movie that can be darkly bedazzling, and that will be embraced and defended in a dozen passionate ways — but it’s one that, to me, falls very short of being a ‘Mad Max’ home run,” Gleiberman wrote. “And here’s the thing: I’d be lying if I denied that a ‘Mad Max’ home run is what I was craving. In ‘Furiosa,’ George Miller invests himself so heavily in the ‘Mad Max’ mythology that he competes with it, tops it, and tears it apart at the same time. I’m tempted to rechristen the movie ‘Mad Miller: Beyond Asunder Dome.’

BBC‘s Nicholas Barber said the film was more “exhausting” than “exhilarating” in his review: “If [Fury Road] was essentially one long car chase, with a few brief pit stops, this one is an episodic Bildungsroman, complete with chapter headings, that stretches across several locations and time periods. It’s an hour before Taylor-Joy and Burke first appear; there’s half an hour in the middle when there’s no sign of Hemsworth; there are various political negotiations between rival warlords; and an entire war is consigned to a montage.

IGN‘s Lex Briscuso said: “It’s hard to overstate how immaculately crafted Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga is, both as a prequel to Max Max: Fury Road and as a stand-alone story of how the Wasteland created a powerful character. With a ferocious and savage heart, George Miller’s film takes flight into epic status. Weaving together top-notch worldbuilding, an emotionally resonant directorial eye, searing performances, sharp cinematography, and a Hell-raising score, this is a remarkable hero’s journey punctuated by incredible action scenes and an utterly stunning reflection on life and love prevailing beyond the fall of civilization.

Empire‘s John Nugent said: “[Furiosa] is a lot. Where Fury Road was set over a mere 36 hours, this story spans 15 years. Where Fury Road was singular, unstoppable action ecstasy, this is more episodic tension, divided into five chapters, each with cryptic titles like ‘The Pole Of Inaccessibility.’ It is markedly different from that last film in so many ways, and yet inextricably tied to it, deepening our understanding of what Charlize Theron’s Furiosa meant when she spoke of ‘looking for redemption’ and said that her ‘mother died on the third day.’ Places only whispered of or glimpsed before — Gas Town, the Bullet Farm, the Green Place — are finally rendered on screen, vast and grandiose. The Wasteland feels bigger and busier — shout out to new characters Scrotus, The Octoboss and Piss Boy — and also somehow lonelier and more oppressive, like if David Lean did dieselpunk.

Deadline‘s Pete Hammond singled out praise for Chris Hemsworth. “Dementus in particular is given long stretches of Shakespearean-style dialogue and speeches that are impeccably delivered by Hemsworth in what I think is the best performance of his career,” Hammond wrote. “In this brutal, appropriately-named Wasteland, he shows the remnants of a man for whom violence and lack of humanity have become his only means to exist in a scorched-earth world where only the strong and gas hoarders survive. Hemsworth, employing a distinct accent and look, locks into this role with abandon and steals the picture. He instantly becomes one of the great villains, complex and endlessly watchable and charismatic like all of the most misguided leaders.

THR‘s David Rooney said: “Anya Taylor-Joy is a fierce presence in the title role and Chris Hemsworth is clearly having fun as a gonzo Wasteland warlord, but the mythmaking lacks muscle, just as the action mostly lacks the visual poetry of its predecessor. That’s not to say there aren’t mind-blowing action sequences. One 15-minute set-piece mid-film, in which Alyla Browne as the 10-year-old title character makes way for Taylor-Joy 15 years later, is electrifying.

Collider‘s Therese Lacson said: “Because of the nature of this story, the pacing and tone are completely different from the previous one. The heart-pounding action that was Fury Road is not fully present here, and in some respects, the story is weaker for it. It’s clear that Miller has a vision for Furiosa and has dedicated many years to her creation. She’s fully fleshed out in a way Max never has been​​​​​​, and this origin story feels like one of mythic proportions, with parables being bounced around as we watch Furiosa learn time and time again that the Wasteland will take everything from her. However, there is such a thing as too much information, and unfortunately, Furiosa falls victim to a problem that Fury Road never had. There are parts of the film that feel like a pure info dump, like Miller is filling in a picture that’s better left bare.

All in all, the reviews make it sound like Furiosa is a hell of a good time with plenty of world-building and eclectic characters, but if you go in expecting a clone of Fury Road, particularly when it comes to the action, you might be disappointed.

The official synopsis for Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga: “As the world fell, young Furiosa is snatched from the Green Place of Many Mothers and falls into the hands of a great Biker Horde led by the Warlord Dementus. Sweeping through the Wasteland they come across the Citadel presided over by the Immortan Joe. While the two Tyrants war for dominance, Furiosa must survive many trials as she puts together the means to find her way home.” The film will hit theaters on May 24th.

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